When your pooch sings, he's using this longer, more musical bark to communicate everything ranging from happiness and sadness to interest and curiosity. Some dogs play every instrument in the orchestra through their singing vocalization. Owners wake each morning wondering what song Fido will sing that day.
Decoding Dog's Bark
Dog Behaviorist Dr. Sophia Yin says to listen to the sound your dog makes, observe his body posture and notice the context. You'll find that when your pup sings at the sound of neighborhood dogs or lets out a single-note, high-pitched bark at a squirrel, it sounds different than the rapid, low-pitched bark he has for the stranger at the door. This is because he's communicating his emotions to either you or the other things in the situation. Yin says that by systematically analyzing your dog's barks and the circumstances in which they happen, you can quickly decode what your dog is communicating.
Tell What's Wrong
A dog's wolf heritage is responsible for his singing voice. In the wilderness, wolves howl to reassemble the pack. Your dog might be doing the same if he's howling out of boredom or loneliness. Perhaps he's trying to call for you or the family to give him attention. Dogs also sing to tell you a story, such as that his mate is in the backyard about to give birth or there's a dog in the alley who is hurt or possibly dying. In addition, a dog howls when distressed or worried. Pack your suitcase in front of him and he's likely to sing the blues.
In Play and Friendliness
High-pitched noises like sirens or even songs on the radio can make Fido croon. He's simply imitating what he hears -- just as wolves do. Your dog might also sing because he's excited to see his doggie friend come over to play. This is his way of communicating to you and his pal that he is happy. The same goes for when an owner walks in the door. This is a popular time for northern breeds, such as Siberian huskies or Alaskan malamutes, to belt one out. These kinds of dogs sing for their owners who are hunting and sledding so that they can hear them over the activity.
Fido might sing simply because you've instructed him to. Dogs can be taught to howl. Sometimes it's fun to show off your dog's beautiful voice -- especially when in the company of friends. All you have to do to train his singing voice is to howl yourself and ask him to sing. Eventually when he does, give him a treat, praise him and act excited. Repeat the process for days until he can do it on cue.
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.